Calgary school board closes door on adult education

Calgary Board of Education trustees heard Tuesday from adult learning students worried about plans to close the building that houses their programs.

Viscount Bennett Centre — which houses Chinook Learning Services — is slated to close in August

Sean McIntosh, 27, a student at the Chinook Learning Services says the closure of the building that houses the program could delay his future plans. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

The Calgary Board of Education is closing rather than repairing the aging building that houses Chinook Learning Services, and will no longer offer high school upgrading and continuing education courses for adults.

Some English language courses for adults will continue at a southeast high school.

CBE trustees heard Tuesday from adult students worried about plans to close the building that houses their continuing education programs.

Sean McIntosh, 27, was one of the students who addressed the board, saying he returned to Chinook Learning Services two semesters ago after being out of school for the past 11 years.

"It means the world to me," he said. "The teachers are great and I've made friends. I wish I'd found Chinook Learning Services a lot sooner, my life would be a lot different."

McIntosh said he hopes to one day enrol in the culinary program at SAIT and the closure could delay or derail those plans.

The Viscount Bennett Centre — which houses Chinook Learning Services — is slated to close in August.

"It probably should have been closed years ago, it is in pretty rough shape," CBE board chair Trina Hurdman told reporters. "It's just not a safe learning environment anymore for students."

Mandate for those under 19

Officials estimate the move will save a minimum of $1 million. The CBE is facing a $35-million shortfall, and because of that, Hurdman said, they're not seeing a lot of options that would allow them to keep the building open.

She notes the CBE is mandated to provide education only to students up to the age of 19.

"It requires an immense amount of bravery and passion about education to come and speak to the board of trustees," she said.

CBE board chair, Trina Hurdman, said she believes Alberta Education learned from the CBE and will be able to help other school boards create more sustainable transportation models. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

"I'm so grateful that they value education so much and that they found such great value in the service that we were providing. I'm really sorry that we're not able to provide it going forward."

CBE will continue to offer high school upgrade courses to students 16 to 20 years old at James Fowler High School, Lord Beaverbrook High School and Forest Lawn High School.

Adult English language courses will continue in a separate wing of Forest Lawn High School that doesn't have access to the main building.

Adults interesting in upgrading or continuing education courses can find programs at Bow Valley College and other adult learning organizations in the city.

Hurdman said any money saved through the closure of the Viscount Bennett Centre will go to their mandate of K-12 education.

With files from Andrew Brown